Kristine L. Stresman

Room of Interactive Color

Kristine L. Stresman, Wisconsin, USA

Supervisor: Dr. Fionnuala Conway

This thesis is a practice-based art installation that explores the intersecting definitions of interactivity and personal embodiment as they relate to static presentations. “Room of interactive colour” is a space filling installation using light as a medium. A 5K colored white light fixture is hung from the ceiling and a simple musical soundtrack, using a neutral timbre instrument invites the observer into the space to interact with it and thusly, themselves. Traditional definitions of interactivity imply some kind of computer generated movement or change in the environment, however, installation art fits neither these definitions nor older schema of classical perspective fine art. Using Claire Bishop’s framework of installation art and Nathaniel Stern’s Implicit Body assessment framework, “Room of interactive colour” carves out a new area for how we recognize embodied interaction and works to create a new working definition for “passive-embodied interaction”.


Case studies included installations using light as a medium. People in these installations notice that their cognizance of space is changed acutely as they are effected by colours and illumination difference. They do not have “interactive” components like computers or moving parts, but the observers still interact with the space through their own perception of it.

Film scores that utilize non-traditional music structures to accompany everyday occurrences and enhance relationality to the visual work informed the musical accompaniment.


A specific choice of 5K light colour was chosen because of its high colour rendering index and paired with a non-timbre specific synthetic instrument for a musical accompaniment. Choice of light and music were chosen to be as unobtrusive as possible, leaving the questions and points of the piece up to the observers.

Nathaniel Stern’s work on critical assessment of interactive art called the implicit body framework was applied though self-assessment means to negotiate its position in the interactive artwork paradigm. Stern uses 4 criteria: artistic inquiry & process, description, inter-activity, and relationality.


There is indeed a space and conversation needed for non-computer based interactive installation art. The purported new term of passive-embodied interaction encompasses work in which the audience is asked to consider themselves not as a tool to create an interaction, but an interaction in and of themselves. When viewers feel unencumbered in fine arts spaces by being allowed to relate with pieces that do not confront them with pre-written questions or pseudo-rehearsed computer code then perhaps their embodied interactions will begin to free these spaces from bias, creating more inclusive arts experiences.

Project Gallery